Inside Jayhawk Nation

March 4, 2010 8:24 PM

Staying True to the Crimson and Blue

I was watching the number two Kansas Jayhawks play the number five Kansas State Wildcats Wednesday night, when someone I had just met, who was watching the game with no rooting interest, asked which team was wearing purple.

I still don't know if he was joking or not, because I haven't been able to grasp the fact an adult living in the state of Kansas had to ask that question. I didn't even move to the Sunflower State until 1996, but it didn't take me long to figure out the difference between Crimson and Blue and Powercat Purple.

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January 27, 2010 10:17 PM

Cole Hard Fact: Aldrich is Back

As KU center Cole Aldrich "struggled" by nearly averaging a double-double during the first 18 games of the season, everyone wanted to know why he wasn't playing well. Some started to question his decision to come back to Kansas instead of heading to the NBA. Two games later, they had their answer.

The junior averaged 15.5 points, 13.5 points and five blocks in two wins against Iowa St. and Missouri this past week. The shots in the paint that weren't blocked seemed to at least be altered by the seven-foot Jayhawk Giant. Sports shows across the nation talked how Aldrich is back in the discussion of Player of the Year, as he should be. Even before his monster games most coaches in the nation would have gladly taken his 10.5 points, 9.7 rebounds, and three blocks per contest.


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November 29, 2009 12:46 AM

Border Showdown Loss Falls on Mangino's Shoulders

Dezmon Briscoe had two fumbles that led to 14 Missouri points. In the second half, the KU defense showed up like a white crayon on notebook paper. However, nothing compared to the three plays that were called with the Jayhawks leading by three late in the fourth quarter of a Border Showdown they would eventually lose, 41-39.

With three minutes left in the game, and the Tigers clinging to just one timeout, KU head coach Mark Mangino gift wrapped an early Christmas present and hand-delivered it the Jayhawks' rival to the East.

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November 19, 2009 8:46 PM

Anger Mangino-ment?

31167_Big_12_Football.jpgThere are many ways to poke someone. There is the "Stay out of my way, punk," poke, the "Multiple finger" poke, and the misunderstood "Facebook" poke. It's unclear what kind of poke Kansas head football coach Mark Mangino used on Jayhawk linebacker Arist Wright earlier this year, but what is clear is it's quickly becoming the "Poke heard 'round the sports world."

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October 23, 2009 12:09 AM

Can KU Hang With Oklahoma?

Sam Bradford will not show up on the field for Oklahoma Saturday in Lawrence. The question is: Will the KU defense?

Ever since the remarkable 2007 Orange Bowl season the KU defense has been questioned. It was the easy scapegoat for the 8-5 campaing last year, and again this season after the Jayhawks gave up 70 points in the first two Big XII contests.
The 'Hawks defense has yielded 26.3 points per contest since defeating Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl. That number isn't terrible until you hold it up under the microscope and do some comparing. If you throw out non-conference games through that stretch, the KU defense is allowing another 10 points per game. Also, during its Orange Bowl run the Jayhawks only gave up a stingy 16.1 points per game.
Those stats are stark evidence that defense wins championships. An offense can only hold up for so long, and when quarterback Todd Reesing doesn't play particulary well (or makes a number of mistakes like in the Colorado game) the 'Hawks will get beat by inferoir teams.
With that being said, the loss to Colorado could actually benefit them. Look for running back Jake Sharp to have his best game of the season, and the 'Hawks win a shootout: 38-35.
October 17, 2009 4:19 AM

KU Football Team Ready To Battle With Basketball Team Again

First it was fisticuffs, now it's The Phog.
They aren't actually fighting, but the Kansas football team is once again in direct competition with the basketball squad.
With the official start to the NCAA basketball season underway at midnight Saturday morning, the KU football team is now fighting for the spotlight with the basketball squad.
In the late 90s and early 2000s once the first day of basketball practice began, the football season was an afterthought. It already was turning into just another reason for college students to drink. Once basketball started Jayhawk football faded faster than Dustin Diamond's career after "Saved by the Bell."
Now, things are different. The football team is preparing to play Colorado Saturday, and comes in as one of only eight unbeatens left in Division I (I refuse to call it FBS). Fans are actually coming to games (although apparently they aren't staying). Now, they have to deal with the darlings of Lawrence interfering once again with their season.
It doesn't help the fact that the basketball team is ranked number one in all the pre-season polls, and freshman Xavier Henry is the Jayhawk's possible first one-and-done player in the history of the program.
Both football coach Mark Mangino and basketball head man Bill Self have said they want their players to support each other. And more than likely, they mean it. However, it's no secret basketball in Lawrence is comparable to football in West Texas -- it's really the only thing that matters.
If the football team loses a game it shouldn't, or can't beat some of the top dogs in the Big XII, KU fans will drop the team a la Lennox Lewis vs. Hasim Rachman circa 2001.
The wins will have to continue for the popularity to as well. The basketball team could drop a few games, and fans will give it the benefit of the doubt. Basketball players are treated like gods on campus. The football players are treated more like Achilles, and their heel is losing.
If they slip up against Colorado Saturday, the Jayhawk faithful may be saying "Todd who?" while chanting "Sher-ron Col-lins over and over again.
October 13, 2009 1:28 AM

Lawrence Police Still Searching For Missing Jayhawk Defense

Todd Reesing was there. Dez Briscoe showed up as well. Kerry Meier? Oh yeah.

Even the offensive line made an appearance in a 41-36 victory Saturday against Iowa St. as Reesing only had to make two or three acrobatic plays to elude would-be tacklers. True freshman Toben Opurum was in and out, but he showed up for the most part.

The defense, however, was no where to be found.

And to say it showed up on the final drive is like saying the Twins showed up to play the Yankees in the ALDS . An overthrown pass to a wide open receiver that would have been a possible game-winning score isn't exactly "stopping" the offense.

Here are the raw numbers:

  • 219 rushing yards (5.1 yards per carry)
  • 293 passing yards
  • 512 total yards
  • 6.1 yards per play
No, those aren't Reesing and the Jayhawk offense's numbers. Instead, that was 3-3 (0-2 in the Big XII) Iowa State's numbers. The same team that has not won a Big XII football since 2007.

The defense was suspect coming in to the season but played well the first three games of the year. Yes, it was against directionally-named programs, but it still looked like it would be better than 2008.

However, since the second half of the Southern Mississippi game, KU's defense is allowing a touchdown and two-point conversion per quarter. That isn't going to get it done against Oklahoma, Texas, or even Kansas State.

As impressive as ISU's numbers were, Reesing and the Jayhawks' performance was even better. Reesing tied his own team record for most completions (37) in a game and had a career-high 442 yards through the air. Briscoe broke the all-time KU receptions (165) record, then Meier (167) stole it from him. Meier then set the KU game reception record with 16. Each scored two touchdowns for good measure.

But one game this season, the offense isn't going to click. Reesing with throw a couple of INTs. Meier and Briscoe will drop some passes. Senior running back Jake Sharp is banged up, and Opurum is a true freshman. They will have down games at some point.

Kansas averaged 33 points per game in 2008, but scored just seven against Texas and 21 against Texas Tech. If that happens in Austin this year, do you think Colt McCoy is going to only put up 14 points on the board?

In 2007, the 12-1 Jayhawks won games three games when scoring 24 points or less, including their Orange Bowl victory against Virginia Tech.

The fact of the matter is, there should be no excuses. Yes, Bill Young is gone, and Clint Bowen is green. Yes a strong linebacking corp the past six or seven years has been reduced to a few no-name question marks. However, this is Big XII football. No one feels sorry for anyone. Nebraska beat the Jayhawks for 36 straight seasons, and the 'Huskers wanted to do all they could to push the streak to 37.

So, now is the time defensive leaders Jake Laptad and Darrell Stuckey pull their stoppers together and have a serious discussion about keeping the ball out of the end zone.

Maybe that's where the defense is right now; together, with no one else around, trying to figure out what needs to be done. Because any Jayhawk fan will tell you, it sure didn't look like they were on the field Saturday.

October 10, 2009 2:51 AM

KU Must Win Big To Be Taken Seriously

How about a little less drama this year?

A year ago Todd Reesing and the Jayhawks put up 35 points on Iowa St. in the second half. That should have been enough for an easy blowout. Instead, KU escaped with a 35-33 victory after trailing 20-0 at halftime.

This weekend, save the drama for playoff baseball.

If the 'Hawks do anything but blowout the Cyclones from the start, KU fans will be nervous heading to Boulder next weekend. It doesn't matter that Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins might not reach his goal of 10 wins this year -- or next. Nevermind the fact KU has gone 14-4 in its last 18 games against Big XII North opponents. If the Jayhawks struggle against a team that lost to Kansas State, the restlessness will begin to show with the KU faithful.

On one hand its great for a program when its fan base is feeling nervous after a 5-0 start. On the other hand its extremely funny because less than five years ago if "5-0" was written anywhere near the words "KU football" one might think that was the height of a Jayhawk defensive back before thinking it was their record.

So, while this Jayhawk-Cyclone game may not be the match-up of the week in college football, it certainly could go a long way in showing how good this team really is.

Now, on to 10 signs the day could be going well for KU.

10. A brawl breaks out during the game, and no KU basketball players are involved.

9. KU trails only 10-0 at the half.

8. Reesing injures his throwing arm, but instead of pouting switches places with Kerry Meier and catches a touchdown pass.

7. It's warm and sunny when the Cyclones take the field.

6. The students at the game don't collectively fall asleep after getting just four hours of sleep before tailgating for the 11:30 a.m. start.

5. Reesing suddenly realizes no one is talking about him for the Heisman, and decides to throw a touchdown in the first half this time. Really though, Jimmy Clausen?

4. Dezmon Briscoe realizes he is now the best active wide receiver in the country - and plays like it.

3. The KU players enter the field a la the wedding parties from "The Office" and "JK."

2. The stadium looks like this at kickoff.

1. This guy shows up for the game.

October 6, 2009 6:10 AM

Tough Times In Lawrence

At least in the media, it's not fun to be a Jayhawk right now.

The Kansas football and basketball teams have been involved in three public skirmishes in the past few weeks, allowing many in the media to joke that there is a KU Fight Club.

Now the latest involves junior basketball player Brady Morningstar. The sharp-shooter was arrested this past week after driving while intoxicated and booked into Douglas County Jail.

He has since been suspended by head coach Bill Self for the first semester.

If the 'Hawks don't calm down, somebody may mistake them for Missouri. While no team is immune to negativity, KU is usually looked upon as a stand-up program all around. Sure head football coach Mark Mangino cussed out a player (who deserved it by the way) and found his way on youtube, and senior guard Sherron Collins was taken to court last year with the charges dropped. But neither of those made national news. Instead, it was the great success of the football and basketball teams since 2007 that was making headlines.

"Mario and the Miracle" was much more exciting for KU fans than "Brady and the Beer." What they Jayhawks need to do is come out and stomp Iowa St. and Colorado, setting up a 6-0 record with No. 21 Oklahoma.

Yes, the Sooners are swooning right now, but a victory against their Big XII South nemesis would go a long way toward silencing some doubters. The Jayhawks have not beaten OU since 1997, and the Sooners could be hitting a groove by the time these two hook-up Oct. 24. It also will be the second straight season the Sooners play the Jayhawks a week after taking on Texas.

Last year the Lonhorns took out OU and the Sooners promptly took out the 'Hakws 45-31 the next week. If Oklahoma is coming off its third loss of the season after the Texas game, the Jayhawks could be playing a team that is ready to implode. However, it also could be playing a team that is ready to explode and take all of its frustration out on them.

If the 'Hawks leave that game at Memorial Stadium 7-0, their brushes with the law will soon be forgotten. That's not to say they shouldn't be held accountable. Morningstar's punishment fits the crime, and even though no football or basketball players were arrested or suspended for the fights, Mangino and Self surely made the guilty parties pay in some fashion.

I would guess there was a lot of running involved. Either that, or the coaches made the guilty players do their laundry for the rest of the semester.

The point is, KU cannot afford any more negative press. The Jayhawks have to go out and let actions speak for themselves and destroy the Cyclones this week at Memorial Stadium. They need step on their throats when they are down, but do it with some class.

As long as the fighting stays between the white lines, and against the opposing team, everything is fine. However, another fight on campus between fellow Jayhawks may lend some credence to the unflattering nickname, "Jailhawks."

September 25, 2009 9:17 PM

Five Keys to KU's Success the Rest of the Way

After three blowouts of teams that would struggle against the top high school teams in the nation, the Jayhawk football team survived a scare at home Saturday against a talented and underrated Southern Mississippi club.

At 4-0, the 'Hawks are ranked 18th in the Associated Press Top-25 poll and only Michigan (24) is undefeated and ranked lower than than KU. No surprises here, especially considering the teams KU played in the first three weeks. A top-10 ranking will not happen unless Kansas is able to defeat Oklahoma Oct. 24 in Lawrence. However, wins against Iowa St. and Colorado must come first if the high hope of winning the Big XII North is going to happen.

The Cyclones and Buffaloes will be easy wins you say? However, a closer look goes to show that may not be the case. Take for example, ISU's 21-0 nothing first-half lead in Ames, Iowa, last year before the 'Clones imploded. Also, during the 2007 Orange Bowl run, KU won only 19-14 in Boulder, Colo. -- the same year the 'Hawks hung 76 on Nebraska. This year's game against Colorado is back in Boulder, and any KU fans not nervous for that game are also called liars.

Sure, saying Colorado is bad is like saying Ben Stiller's character in "There's Something About Mary" had a problem with his zipper, but KU's only road victory a year ago was in Ames.

So if KU is to win the North title, there can't be any hiccups along the way. Whether they are playing at home or the road cannot matter. The 'Hawks have to be playing their A-game each week. Head coach Mark Mangino has this weekend off to prepare for the conference season and their title run. If that is to happen, the Jayhawk must have these five things happen first:

(1) Jake Sharp Must Get Healthy

The Salina senior had 266 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns in his first two games before getting injured. Yes, true freshman Toben Opurum has filled in nicely, but without Sharp, teams in the Big XII will begin to key in on Todd Reesing and force him to throw too many passes like last season.

In 2007, the combination of Thunder (Brandon McAnderson) and Lightning (Sharp) made for one of the most dangerous rushing combos in the country. Bottom line: no Sharp, no title.

(2) Opurum Must Continue to Play Well

As much as Sharp is a key to victory, he also needs a McAnderson in the huddle to give him a rest and defenses a different look -- especially if he is not 100 percent healthy.

Opurum has been a beast, leading the team in rushing yards (360) and touchdowns (6), while plowing over would-be-tacklers -- making McAnderson proud no doubt. If the duo continues to compliment the passing the game, KU could be hoisting more than one trophy by season's end.

(3) KU Must Beat Missouri

No one associated with KU wants to lose to Missouri even if the 'Hawks are 0-10 heading into the game. However, this year it could be for more than just pride. Both teams could be heading into the final game with just one loss each. If one has two losses, a tie would be broken with the head-to-head win. In other words, if the 'Hawks repeat the result of the 2007 Border War (settle down all your PCers) the North title is gone with the Kansas wind.

(4) The Defense Must Play Better

Sure, only three points given up looks good, but when it's against a FCS team, it's too much. Southern Miss quarterback Austin Davis exposed the KU defense by completing 28-of-42 passes for 331 yards and three TDs. Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy are simultaneously licking their chops.

(5) Todd Reesing Must Stay Healthy

You probably wouldn't win the Daytona 500 without an engine would you?

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